As we count down to the ESSENCE Festival, taking place June 30-July 3 in New Orleans, music critic Chuck Arnold will get you pumped with a mix of tunes from this year’s artist lineup.
Bell Biv DeVoe, “Poison”
Technically, it’s New Edition on the bill at ESSENCE Fest. But we’re pretty sure that Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe will bust into this 1990 new jack swing classic to competely rock the crowd.
Ciara, “Love Sex Magic”
On this 2009 hit, Ciara teamed up with Justin Timberlake, who blessed this bass-bumping groove with the same seductive powers that made his FutureSex/LoveSounds album so irresistible.
Mariah Carey, “Shake it Off”
Well before Taylor Swift decided to “shake it off,” MC had been there, done that. On this infectious bounce track from her The Emancipation of Mimi opus, she sings, “Just like a Calgon commercial, I really gotta get up outta here and go somewhere.” We feel you, Mariah.
Jeremih, “Birthday Sex”
Candles and cake are nice and all, but who doesn’t want a little loving on their birthday? Jeremih takes you on a bump-and-grind ride, making like a junior R. Kelly on this 2009 hit.
Babyface, ‘Whip Appeal”
This classic slow jam from Babyface’s 1990 album Tender Lover was cowritten by Pebbles and coproduced by her ex-husband, L.A. Reid. With all that talent at work, it couldn’t help but hit all the right spots.
Daley, “Look Up”
He may not be as big as Adele or Sam Smith, but this is another soulful Brit who deserves your attention. Part Maxwell, part Miguel, Daley displays a smooth touch on this breezy, shimmery groove produced by Pharrell.
This triumphant ballad from 2015’s True Romance is the kind of big, bombastic anthem that everyone needs to sing at the top of their lungs every now and then, just to let all the haters know you won’t be defeated.
Kendrick Lamar, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
Who hasn’t wanted to say this to someone who is trying to steal your joy? Kendrick perfectly sums up how we’ve all felt on this good kid, m.A.A.d city pimp-stroller.